In the heavily saturated MP3 player market, sometimes it's best to choose a specific target audience and really go for it. One example of this can be found in the Slacker G2 Personal Radio Player, aimed at tech-savvy consumers with little time and patience for creating personalized playlists. SanDisk takes a different--and yet similar--tactic with its latest device, dubbed SlotRadio.
Rather than offering fancy wireless technology and the capability to tailor music to your liking, the SlotRadio provides an utterly simple and low-cost way to enjoy digital music; the $99 player includes a microSD card preloaded with 1,000 songs already arranged into playlists. The device is clearly not for everyone, but it could be just the ticket for mainstream listeners who balk at the idea of spending their time tailoring playlists (or for luddites who can't be bothered to learn the complexities of digital-music organization and transfer). And considering the relatively low cost of the songs overall, the SlotRadio could make a great secondary player for many people.
Music at a cost
So what exactly is the cost? It breaks down to about four cents per song. Each SlotRadio card includes 1,000 songs and carries an expected MSRP of $39.99. The device comes with a Billboard top-tracks card that offers seven playlists--Alternative, Contemporary, Country, R&B/Hip-Hop, Rock, Workout, and Chillout--and will sell for $99.99. SanDisk is unable to confirm specific songs on the card, but the company has been working closely with Billboard to offer selections from such artists as Akon, Brad Paisley, Coldplay, Fall Out Boy, Maroon 5, Mary J. Blige, Rihanna, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Soundgarden, The Killers, T-Pain, Kanye West, No Doubt, Kenny Chesney, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and U2. Going forward, SanDisk will offer a variety of genre- and theme-based songs. For example, you can pick up the Modern Rock card with '80s, '90s, punk, and so on, or the Daily Motion card with dinner time, barbecue, and road trip playlists.
For our part, we listened to the SlotRadio player for several weeks and found that the selections were pretty solid mainstream hits ranging from the '60s to today. In our estimation, we could tolerate about 80 percent of the songs, which isn't a terrible ratio. It's unlikely that anyone will like every song included on the card, but the average listener should enjoy most of the selections. Of course, you also have to factor in how long it will take before you get sick of listening to the same 1,000 songs; it will be different for everyone, and at least partially dependent on how often you use the player.
Naturally, there's also a catch in getting the songs so cheaply: you don't get to pick them yourself. Plus, they're locked to the microSD card, so you can't transfer them to your computer or any other device. You also can't toy with the order of the tracks, though of course you can skip the ones you don't like. However, while you can't move tracks around, the cards themselves are expected to be compatible with the Sansa Fuze and may work in other devices with microSD slots.